Living with Anticipation
First Sunday of Advent
SUNDAY, November 27
Matthew 24:36, 42-44
Jesus is returning—what a glorious day it will be when Jesus comes back for his church!
When my wife, Sharon, and I were dating, we were apart for six months as she served as a missionary in Japan. How I missed her. I made a customized keychain that read Sharonatha (come quickly, Sharon!).
The return of Jesus is welcome news in these tumultuous times. The global Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, so much suffering. Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
Before his return, there is so much work to be done. So many people have not heard the gospel, so many injustices in society need to be addressed and rectified. When Jesus returns, may he find his church, you and me, fully engaged in the work of the kingdom. This is the best way to be prepared for his return.
Lord Jesus, we long for your return, the day when you bring your kingdom into its fullness. May your people be actively doing your work until the day you return. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: HOPE AS WE AWAIT JESUS’S COMING
Living with Urgency
MONDAY, November 28
Paul exhorts us to live with a sense of urgency in the light of Jesus’s return. “Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (v. 11, NLT). As a pastor of 30 years, I often find myself living in a decent rhythm but without a sense of urgency. It is easy to get caught up in our daily routines. Passages like this one put a fresh fire in my spirit, reminding me that time is running out.
Ask yourself today, “Am I living for the kingdom with a sense of urgency in my life?” Let the Lord evaluate your current state and ask him for the fresh fire of urgency to burn in your heart.
Lord Jesus, fill us with a fresh urgency to live for you and your kingdom today. Fill us with the fresh fire of the Holy Spirit that we may live all-out for you. Amen.
Living with Vision
TUESDAY, November 29
For the first 40 years of my life, I had perfect 20/20 vision. Age finally caught up with me, and now I wear eyeglasses. As we get along in years, our spiritual vision can get blurry. We need passages like Isaiah 2 to remind us of God’s vision. God gave Isaiah a fresh vision and enabled him to see clearly from God’s perspective, prophesying of the coming Messiah. May the Lord give us fresh spiritual vision today. May we see Jesus the Messiah clearly!
Take some time today to evaluate your spiritual vision. Are you seeing the Lord clearly? Are you seeing his kingdom and the work he has called you to? Ask the Lord to touch your eyes and give you fresh spiritual vision.
Lord, touch our spiritual eyes this morning. Like Isaiah, we want to see you and your kingdom clearly. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: THAT OTHERS SEE GOD’S LOVE THROUGH US
Living with Thanksgiving
WEDNESDAY, November 30
In every circumstance we are called to give thanks to God. This past summer, I was set to lead a mission trip to Rwanda with our church. Three days before our departure, I caught Covid, so I was unable to go on this much anticipated trip. I was so very bummed out! Yet in the midst of this circumstance, I was reminded to give thanks to God. When I started to give thanks, immediately a sense of peace and even joy started to fill my heart. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose our response. It is good to give thanks to God.
What are you going through today? Something joyful? Give thanks to God (much easier to do in these circumstances!). Something difficult? Give thanks to God! He is good, and he is working all things together for our good.
Lord, we give thanks to you today. We rejoice in our salvation and in the fact that you are good and have good plans for our lives. Amen.
Living with Peace
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1
“O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces” (v. 7, NLT).
The Lord calls us to pray for peace in Jerusalem. Let us take time this morning to pray for peace there—and also to pray for peace in our own hearts. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, means more than a mere absence of conflict. It is a sense of well-being of spirit, body, and mind. It comes from intimate relationship with Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace.
Is anything hindering your peace this morning? Identify it and lay it at the Lord’s feet. Ask the Prince of peace to fill your heart afresh with his perfect peace.
Prince of peace, we come to you, praying for peace in Jerusalem; we also pray for peace in our own hearts. Fill our hearts afresh with your peace that passes understanding. Thank you for filling us with your peace! Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: TIME ALONE WITH GOD THIS BUSY SEASON
Living in God’s Comfort
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2
“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God (v. 1, NLT).
I thank God for the trials in my life. Not the trials themselves (I am not a glutton for pain), but what the trials bring to my life—God’s comfort. The difficulties in my life bring me to God, and in God’s presence I experience God’s comfort in my life in a real and powerful way. If we don’t have trials in our lives, we can slip into in cruise control mode and forget our desperate need for God. Trials humble us and cause us to seek God. So let us thank God for the trials in our lives.
What trials are you facing today? You are not alone. Our heavenly Father longs to be gracious to you and provide you with fresh comfort and strength.
Lord, we thank you for the trials in our lives which are opportunities for us to experience your sweet comfort. Comfort us this day, Lord. Thank you! Amen.
Living by the Eternal Word
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (v. 8, NLT).
Wow, what a beautiful and powerful truth. The world and its desires are passing away (1 John 2:17). But God’s Word endures forever. In God’s Word, we find eternal truth and eternal perspective.
It’s easy to take our cues from worldly sources of information and commentary. We need to go back to the most reliable source for truth—the living Word of God. In God’s eternal Word, we find the eternal God. The Author resides in us and leads and guides our lives step by step. What an awesome truth to hold onto today.
Lord, we thank you for your eternal Word. We desire to build our lives upon your Word as we obey you. Help us not only to be hearers of your Word, but doers of it. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE WHO WORK LONG HOURS THIS SEASON